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Perfume As A Critique Of Perfume

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An Analysis of Perfume as a Critique of Religion

Perfume by Patrick Süskind follows Jean-Baptiste Grenouille through an incredible journey of survival, perseverance, and ascension to godlike power. It, being set during the Enlightenment, depicts a time where people let curiosity reign and science flourish. Nevertheless, although people were becoming more scientific in their thought, religion was still a part of people’s lives. The presence of religious elements in the novel, however, serves to be more than just a descriptive tool to flesh out the world of the novel. Because of the biblical parallels that present Grenouille as a messiah-like figure, and also further comments on religion through narration, the reader is often pushed to consider the nature of faith and the faithful. In effect, Süskind uses Grenouille and the world of Perfume to examine and critique the functions and foundations of worshipping a god.
One way the novel does so is by satirizing religion using sexual elements. In all major religions, sexuality is far removed from everything holy. This is especially true for Christian monks like Father Terrier. However, when Jeanne Bussie goes to him to give Grenouille back, he breathes in “the scent of milk and cheesy wool exuded by the wet nurse” (8) and finds it a “pleasant aroma” (8). Church representatives have pledged abstinence and are essentially the prime exemplar of sexual neutrality and purity, yet Father Terrier inhales the wet nurse’s scent– an act
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